Italian table manners in front of a dish of spaghetti are very simple.
First of all, as a general rule, keep your hands on the table throughout the meal, and no elbows! Wait for everyone to be served before starting to eat.
Don’t use the spoon when eating spaghetti to help you wrap the pasta. It is considered bad form. Spaghetti should be eaten with the fork only.
Never cut the threads of pasta with a knife or fork. Spaghetti is sold in the right length, about 10 -inches long, and that is just the right size.
Spaghetti is served in a ”piatto fondo,” a deep bowl like a shallow soup-dish with a rim. Make room at the front of the bowl, pushing the spaghetti a little toward the center. Take a little bunch of the spaghetti with the prongs of the fork. Push it against the front side.
Now, working with the fork in a vertical position and the prongs against the rim of the bowl, twirl the fork clockwise with your fingers to roll the spaghetti around your fork. Raise the fork with the spaghetti wrapped around above the bowl and measure the length with your eyes.
The most common mistake is to load too much pasta onto the fork. If you decide it’s too big or too long, drop it down and pick up a smaller bunch. Roll it again until you form a precise bundle just the right size to go into your mouth.
More mistakes to avoid:
Don’t slurp. Absolutely no sounds of any kind.
Don’t splatter. Spaghetti can sometimes splatter the sauce. So be careful, but don’t wear a napkin as a bib unless you are a small child.
Avoid spaghetti for large or formal parties. Short pasta (rigatoni, penne, etc.) are much easier to serve and to eat.
Scarpetta, which means “little shoe,” refers to the act of wiping the last bits of sauce on a dinner plate with a piece of fresh bread. It is not proper to do “scarpetta” at a formal dinner. If you are in an informal setting instead, compliment the cook and ask the guests for permission to do “scarpetta.” They will all agree with a big smile.